Pakistan Earthquake Relief (2005-2006)

Home Our Projects Pakistan Earthquake Relief (2005-2006)

Project Brief

“Heaven on earth” as Bagh was once called, was the second hardest hit region in Pakistan (after Muzaffarabad) of the 2005 Kashmir Earthquake. Receiving lesser attention from international NGOs, many of the villages living in the hilly countries beyond Bagh town received organized relief aid much later. It was thus a concern for the victims of the earthquake on 8th October may not survive as winter approached during the third week of November. CRS has teamed up with a local partner to provide relief to Bagh. With its base located in a Pakistani army camp 20km away from Bagh town, it sent mobile medical teams and relief supplies into the villages in the mountains. Report from CRS first medical team led by Dr. Derek Allen showed that as of 22 October, more than 50% of the villagers still required medical help--about half of these were children. They suffered from respiratory illnesses, exposure, infected wounds and fractures. In each village, the team saw 100-150 patients a day. Some of the patients would not have survived if they were not picked up by the medical team, given appropriate treatments and evacuated. CRS has also raised funds to purchase and deliver blankets/tents and medical supplies into the villages. It has helped them to survive the winter, as access roads may be closed and the villages inaccessible during winter.

Reports from the field:

Tab 2

School Rebuilding Project in Mongbajiri
6th May 2006
Miracles in Kashmir
25th Dec 2005
A Different Perspective of Life in Kashmir
Report by Alwin Tien
6th Dec 2005
29th Nov 2005
Updates from Bagh Team 3
17th Nov 2005
The Quake Didn’t Kill Him-- But Winter Might
14th Nov 2005
9th November 2005
Recce Team Report from Pakistan
Plight of the South Asia Quake Victims

School Rebuilding Project in Mongbajiri

The interim accounts for the Pakistan Earthquake Project:.

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Report of School Rebuilding Project in Mongbajiri, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan – 25th May 2006

By Christina Phung, Project Director of Pakistan Relief Project

Our local partner has already started the reconstruction phase of the project; building a school with staff quarters near the place of the relief operation. This is about 20 minutes drive from Bagh, Kashmir. Our 2 volunteers have just returned from Kashmir on 25 May 06. They reported that the ground has been prepared, and progress of the work has been satisfactory.

Just before they returned to Singapore, the contractor has already begun work on the retaining wall of the school. The project is expected to be completed by end July. On completion, the school would have 10 classrooms (one of them will be used as teachers’ room) and staff quarter that can accommodate 2 families. The school can accommodate up to 100 students and will provide education up to middle level.

We also hope to help our host by buying a 4 x 4 reconditioned jeep for them to get around and visit the villagers in the mountains. However, due to the large increase in the oil price and increase in prices for construction materials (as a result of the reconstruction activities of the Government and other NGOs), the construction cost for the school project was S$30,000 more than the original budget. With that, we will need to raise another S$22,500 to cover the construction cost and to buy the reconditioned jeep (please see Interim Accounts below).

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Laying concrete on the retaining wall
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Defining the outline of the school building and
preparing the foundations

6th May 2006

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Report of Pakistan Earthquake Relief Project – 6th May 2006

By Christina Phung, Project Director of Pakistan Relief Project

The last CRS team sent into Azad Kashmir was from 4 -11 March 2006. The team members comprised Dr. Paul Mok, Dr. Anthony Chao, Roy Tan, Albert Ho, Mok Siew Lin and Debe Hoo. During their visit there, the team attended to the sick at Mong Bajiri, Soklahi, and Cheekseria. They also conducted a full day ENT clinic at the Bagh District Hospital.

The next phase of the project will involve the construction of a school at Mong Bajiri. Our local hosts have successfully applied for status of local NGO. They have also negotiated a 10 year lease for a plot of land below the army camp where the previous teams were housed. The building of the school building will start soon and is due for completion in August 2006. The estimated cost for the whole project is USD$70 000. CRS will co-fund the project.
Two CRS representatives (Ng Peng Kiat & Johnny Tang) will be going to Azad Kashmir to oversee the project in May 2006.

Miracles in Kashmir

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Miracles in Kashmir – 6th February 2006 M

By Jolyn Chua, Pakistan Team 9

Team 9 – Dr. Benjamin Leong, Jolyn Chua (10-17 Jan 2006)

The first day we arrived in Kashmir on 11 Jan 2006, while halfway on the 5-hour van journey to Mang Bajeri in Kashmir, we met with a road accident on a hilly road near Arja. A small truck had turned out suddenly and hit us as we were going downhill. Our van driver braked and the van swerved to the side, but thankfully, we stopped in time and did not swerve over the cliff. The van was slight dented on the left hand front corner, but we were safe and unhurt.

We were very fortunate, especially in terms of the weather! By some divine intervention, our local host had already planned our schedule for us to trek up the mountains to do mobile clinics only on Thursday and Saturday, and the weather was bright and sunny on both of those days! On the other days where we planned to stay in camp and do clinic at camp, the weather was less favourable. It was cloudy and cold on Fri, and it rained the entire day on Sunday, which meant the sandy and steep hill tracks would be wet, muddy and very slippery, not ideal for trekking at all.

In most parts of Kashmir and Pakistan, winter was actually delayed for about three weeks, which allowed more time for the much-needed supplies to reach the people. About two weeks before our trip, there was snow at the Mang Bajeri base camp on three days. Thankfully, the week that we were there, there was no snow at all, so it was not overly cold for us and the Kashmiris. However, we did see have the opportunity to see snow as we were passing through Murree, a mountainous area with many tall peaks.

We also had the chance to visit Rosana, the 27-year-old lady with epilepsy. She was bedridden for one year, very weak and regularly had three epileptic fits a day. After the first team that visited her in December 2005 left her, miraculously, in the next three days that followed, she did not have a single fits attack at all! And since then, she has been put on epilepsy medication specially bought for her and different teams have gone up to help her do physiotherapy and her condition has continued to improve greatly! Now, not only was she smiling when visited her, she was seated upright in her bed, and even able to stand up and walk around the house! So far, she only has one mild attack every two weeks or so. A true miracle! What a drastic difference it has made to her life!

Overall, we had a very good trip. We saw and treated over 200 patients from numerous villages.

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The van was slight dented on the left hand front corner
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Cloudy and cold weather
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Us and the Kashmiris
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Rosana, the 27-year-old lady with epilepsy

25th Dec 2005

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Report of Pakistan Earthquake Relief Project – 25th December 2005

CRS Team 6 has came back from Bagh, Kashmir on 17 Dec 05 and we have sent our 7th team out on 20 Dec 05. There will be two doctors on team 7. Besides providing medical services to the villages surrounding our base camp in Bagh, Team 7 will also be bringing Christmas cheer to them. This will be the first time the villagers experience the joy and hope of Christmas.

Together with our local partner, the distribution of relief supplies is almost completed. We would still be distributing food and winter clothing throughout the winter.

Out of the 7 teams, only 2 teams did not have a doctor, However there were Korean doctors at the base camp to coincide with the two non-medical teams that we sent.

Our local partner has permission from the Army to operate medical clinic throughout the winter. CRS has scheduled trip dates for the month of Jan 06 and the dates for Feb will be ready soon.

Scheduled Dates

Team 8
31 Dec 05 to 7 Jan 06 (Sat to Sat)

Team 9
10 Jan 06 to 17 Jan 06 (Tues to Tues)

Team 10
21 Jan 06 to 28 Jan 06 (Sat to Sat)

A Different Perspective of Life in Kashmir

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A Different Perspective of Life in Kashmir – 25th December 2005

By Ng Tze Yong, Pakistan Team 3

In Kashmir, generosity operates on a different level, even after an earthquake. At every house we stopped at during our relief trip in November, we were insistently told to sit down and offered trays of butter biscuits and chai carefully sweetened with buffalo milk.

The families were dirt-poor, but their sons scrambled off into the forest to gather armfuls of tangerines and walnuts for us. At many houses, the fathers insisted we stay the night.

Perhaps this was the biggest thing that struck us as we played our role as a humanitarian group. Even around us, our local partners were people like Shahid and Samson. Shahid came from a slum in Islamabad. A father of two toddlers, he left his family the day after the earthquake and has been in Kashmir since then. Samson sewed leather jacket in Karachi and left his job for two weeks to go to Kashmir. Shahid and Samson were members of our local partner Calvary Charismatic Church (CCC), the Pakistani daughter church of the Victory Family Centre in Singapore.

We met them in mid-November 2005, when the six of us arrived as the third CRS team in Mong Bajri valley 20km from Bagh in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. With local Kashmiris leading us, we trekked to the villages around the valley. These were alpine villages of mud and concrete houses perched by terraced wheat fields. The once picturesque scene is now marred by destruction. Houses are now piles of logs and stone. Their residents peek out from under thin canvas tents. A woman was crying for her two buffalos lost in the earthquake. On a hilltop, schoolgirls decked in red headscarves and baby blue robes restarted school squatting in rows on the dirt ground. Behind them, their school sits as a pile of rubble. In Class Four, where 17 out of 19 girls died, the two surviving girls squatted by themselves at the back.

Going from house to house, we surveyed each family’s needs and issued vouchers for blankets, tents and zinc sheets accordingly. Distribution of relief supplies was done at base camp. This approach was speedy and allowed us to visit 40 villages in total. It also prevented families from hogging supplies. At the same time, we administered first aid, often revisiting them a few days later to change dressings and give more medicine. By the end of our trip, in partnership with CCC and a Korean partner church, we had given out the following:

  • 280 tents
  • 1100 blankets
  • 1000 mattresses
  • 200 food packages*
  • 1000 pieces of iron sheets (for roofing purpose as the tents will not hold up the snow in winter)

*Food packages consist of 20 kg of flour, 5 kg of rice, 5 liter of cooking oil, 5 kg of sugar, 450 gram of tea, 4 kg of lentils, 1 kg of milk powder, match box as well as soap bar.

In the coming weeks, another 1400 pieces of iron sheets, 1500 blankets, 300 pieces of tarpaulins (water proof sheets for tents covering) and more food and tents will be distributed.

Even as Mong Bajri begins to receive the first snowfall of a three-month long Himalayan winter, CRS is planning more relief trips, as long as there are volunteers and doctors willing to go.

We are also planning for the Rehabilitation Phase after winter ends in March next year. In close consultation with our partners, we are considering the following:

  • Replacing animal livestock (goats and cows).
  • Back to school program (school bag, books, stationary).
  • Providing big tents for schools to conduct lessons.
  • Provide materials for the rebuilding of houses.
  • Kitchen ware and hygiene pack.
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Report by Alwin Tien

Report of Pakistan Earthquake Relief Project – 13th December 2005

By Alwin Tien

Team Members – Tien Der-wei, Alwin, Victor Teo, Michael Sim (19-26 Nov 2005)

From 19-26 Nov 2005, our team made a trip to Pakistan. The time spent there was indeed a time of blessing. Many of us became comrade-in-arms, be it within our own Singapore team, our Pakistani brothers from Calvary Charismatic Church, or the Korean medical team we lament having only one day to spend with. It was amazing how the varied group of 3 nationalities was able to come together so well because of the common calling we have. While time was short, the bonding we shared was special.

During our stay, 3 Singaporeans and 7 Pakistanis ventured into the hill areas of Bagh, looking for those in need, so that redeemable vouchers for aid could be given to them. We amaze at how the little medical aid we provide could be so important to them. As we walk through the destruction caused by the earthquake, we lament for the people who suffered such great loss, be it their personal property, or worse, their loved ones. We act only as hapless bystanders attempting to salvage the little we can.

Hence we go on our venture to give a little comfort, and we rejoice as we see the people receive aid during distribution, like mattresses, blankets and metal sheets. We see their strength as they lug the immense weight on their backs to carry back to the hills. We pray this strength will tide them through the upcoming cold winter months too.

There are also many who do not have enough, such as a group of 40 teachers seeking tents to survive the winter. It was a worrying period as we ran out of tents. It was only after assistance from fellow NGOs that we managed to source the tents for them, so now we give thanks for the tents they have.

There are so many we wish well for, for everyone we met, be it our soldier friends from the army barrack we stayed, the villagers we met, the students studying in the collapsed school, the Pakistani brothers of Calvary Charismatic Church, and the Korean medical team. They have indeed been a blessing to us during our stay.

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6th Dec 2005

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Report of Pakistan Earthquake Relief Project – 6th December 2005

By Christina Phung, Project Director of Pakistan Relief Project

CRS welcomes back Dino Tan and Kleiser Lee and Nurse Margaret Thorpe from Bagh Team 5.

They went up to Pakistan from 29 Nov – 6 Dec 05 with Dr. Derek Allen. Dr. Derek will return on 17 Dec 05.

CRS is committed to support the relief distribution of our hosts through winter.

Team 6 comprising Jolyn Chua, Eddy Neo and Sheryl Low will leave on 10 Dec and return on 17 Dec 05.

Team 7 comprising Dr. Lim Koon Jin, Trisha Chan, Ling Sing Nang, Christopher Kee and Ng Peng Kiat will continue the work from 20-27 Dec 05.

They are planning a Children’s Christmas Party, something for the people to remember. There are also plans to have a special Christmas dinner with our hosts on Christmas eve.

29th Nov 2005

Report of Pakistan Earthquake Relief Project – 29th November 2005

Executive Summary of CRS Pakistan Relief Effort

We have set up base in an Army Camp at Mongbajri, 20 km from Bagh town in Azhad Kashmir. Our local partner is Calvary Charamastic Church (CCC), a local church which has churches in Karachi, Islamabad and Rawapindi. They are the sister church of Victory Family Centre Singapore.

We have been providing medical services to the surrounding villages since 23 Oct 05. A total of 4 doctors and 1 nurse were there to see patients. Our doctors hike to the surrounding villages to seek out patients that were too sick or too old to come down to seek medical treatment. On average, the doctors would have walked about 20 to 30 km (to and from base camp). So far, we have seen more than 1000 patients.

Together with our local host, our volunteers visited every household in the villages to assess their needs. The teams went into the tent or house and issued coupons accordingly. Over a period of 4 weeks, we visited 40 villages for either medical consultations or household survey of needs.

The distribution of the relief supplies were done at the Base Camp. As of to date, we have given out the following relief supplies in partnership with CCC and their Korean partners:

200 tents
1100 blankets
1000 mattresses
200 food packages*
1000 pieces of iron sheets (for roofing purpose as the tents will not hold up the snow)

*Food packages each consists of 20 kg of flour, 5 kg of rice, 5 liter of cooking oil, 5 kg of sugar, 450 gram of tea, 4 kg of lentils, 1 kg of milk powder, match box as well as soap bar.

Another 1400 pieces of iron sheets, 1500 blankets, 300 pieces of tarpaulins (water proof sheets for covering the tents) and more food will be distributed in the coming weeks.

We will continue to provide medical services throughout the winter as long as we can get doctors to go.

Rehabilitation Phase

We plan to continue into the rehabilitation phase. In close consultation with our partners, we may consider the following after the winter:

1. Replacing animal livestock (goats and cows),
2. Back to school program (school bag, books, stationary),
3. Providing big tents for schools to have lessons temporary. All the school buildings in the surrounding area have been destroyed.
4. Provide materials for rebuilding of houses
5. Kitchen ware and hygiene pack

We appreciate your continued support in this project.

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Updates from Bagh Team 3

Updates from Bagh Team 3 – 29th November 2005

Just came back from my 2nd trip to Pakistan, so much to say and do not know how to begin. Maybe I will start with a typical day in the base camp to give you an idea of what the team is doing there.

Everyday is a challenge to get out of the warm sleeping bag, so it depends on who has the courage to get out of the comfortable sleeping bag and tent first, as he or she will boil the water so that everyone in the base camp can wash up with warm water. Someone will also boil the water for hot drink and serve each other; coffee, cereal or milo. Breakfast is free and easy, just dig into the food box and find what you fancy or wait for our local guys to buy bread and cook the omelet. One day we found a packet of otak paste and everyone agrees that it goes well with bread, thus everyone was perked up and all ready for the day’s activity.

Morning devotion is usually around 8 am with worship alternating between English and Urdu, and then a time of sharing.

As we are there to serve and to support our local host, Shahid the Base Camp Coordinator will decide on the villages that we will be going for the day. It could be nearby where we will just walk from the camp to hike up the mountain or it could be an hour drive by van or jeep before we begin the hike. We went to new places to assess needs but some day we went back to villages we have visited to change dressings for those whom the doctors have dressed. Shahid has amazing memory and he remembered who need their dressings changed. We packed our food ration for the day; water, energy bar, chocolate, fruits. We also pack simple medication such as vitamins, pain killer, antiseptic creams, eye drops and dressing sets to do simple first aid along the way. Usually when we reached the village, we split into smaller teams so that we can cover all the households in the village. We go from house to house to ask them about their needs and our local partner will go into the house to verify their requested needs and issue coupons according. The relief supplies given are iron sheets (8 pieces per household), tents, blankets, mattresses or food (flour, rice, sugar, cooking oil and tea). Surprisingly they were very open and we have the opportunity to pray with them, to ask God to bless their family and heal them. A few of the women were reduced to tears because of the loss of their loved ones and their houses. They were extremely hospitable and most household would offer us ‘chai’ (tea) and biscuits. When they see us coming, they will bring out their chairs, cleaned them and offer to make tea for us. We tried to reach base camp about 530 pm which is already dark and cold. In total we have covered 40 villages whether it is for medical or survey of needs.

Usually our host will cook for us, but for the first few days, we cook our own dinner as there are just too many of us (Koreans and ourselves) for them to cater. The key to good partnership are sensitivity, flexibility and accommodative.

The Koreans arrived at the same day as us, so 7 of us and 7 of them plus 7 from CCC Karachi Church and 5 others, it certainly was busy at the Base Camp.

Early evening, someone would have started a fire and all of us would naturally gather around the fire to talk about our day while waiting for dinner to be ready. Fire fellowship continues throughout the evening, we usually have our debrief around 8 pm and by 9pm most of us will seek the warm and comfort of our tents and sleeping bags.

Through our sharing, the testimonies that touch my heart most are the following 2 testimonies:

Malik
He is a young man of 19 years old living in Darlakot Village, about an hour walk from our base camp. He told us that on the day of the earthquake, he and his brother ran outside to help their neighbors. After which they went to Bagh town to see how they can help. He was saddened by the widespread looting, everyone for himself. He saw a woman pinned under some structure, the people instead of helping her took her jewelries. When the Koreans came to his village to give out blankets and mattresses, he was deeply touched; foreigners came all the way to render help as compared to his people. The Koreans left medicine for the dispensary but the person in charge instead of using them to help his people, sold the medicine for his own gain. Malik could not do anything as he could not communicate with the Koreans as he does not speak English. He decided that he would come down to help the foreigners instead. Since late October, he has been helping us; guiding us to the villages, helping in the cooking and washing of the dishes. At first he would come during the morning but now he considers himself as one of the volunteers, eating and sleeping with our hosts and joining in our devotion!

Morris
He is in the Army attached to the Squadron that we based our camp. He is a believer. When the earthquake happened, he told God that he wanted to help. However, as he was in the Army, he is not free to help. He offered his blood for the victims but it was not needed. God answered his prayer when our host came to set up base in his Squadron. He was sent to be a guide when we go into the mountain. Now, he is very much a part of the team, eating and sleeping with our host and joining in the daily devotion. He is a great asset to the team, carrying the heaviest backpack, cooking and unloading the relief supplies. He is a very humble man and goes about doing his things quietly. He dug the toilets for the base camp and took upon himself to scrub the toilet clean so that we are comfortable.

One day, he was told that he was to go to the border. He was saddened to leave the work unfinished. He shared that Jesus while He was on earth completed his task, so similarly he would like to complete his task here before he leaves. Our host prayed for him before he was to go away. Last minute, news came that he was allowed to continue to be our guide!

17th Nov 2005

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Report of Pakistan Earthquake Relief Project – 17th November 2005

Since the last update, there has been a slight change in plans.

CRS sent off 2 teams on 19 Nov 2005. One team (CRS-SJSM Medical Team 2) comprising Simon Ng, Dr. Jennifer Loh, Dr. Koh Eng Hoe and Cecilia Dierden left for Kunhar Christian Hospital. Another team (CRS Team 4 to Bagh) comprising Alwin Tien, Michael Sim and Victor Teo will be helping our local partners to distribute winter shelter items (tents, mattresses and blankets) to villages around the Mong Bajiri Base Camp, 20 km from Bagh town.

CRS welcomes back CRS-SJSM Medical Team 1 from Kunhar Christian Hospital and CRS Team 3 from Bagh. We will feature some of their field experiences soon on this website.

CRS will support our local hosts and partners and continue the medical work and shelter distribution through winter and into spring. However because of the uncertainties surrounding accessibility to the mountainous areas of Kashmir, CRS will monitor the situation and provide updates when the winter season sets in.

The Quake Didn’t Kill Him-- But Winter Might

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The Quake Didn’t Kill Him– But Winter Might

CRS Appeal for Funds for Pakistan Shelter and Medical Relief Project

The South Asia earthquake that struck on 8 October 2005 may be over, but the suffering and dying is far from finished. Though the death toll has already reached 90,000, more people are likely to die from the harsh winter conditions in the region than were killed by the quake itself.

More than 3.5 million people are homeless, and many of these survivors are stranded in the remains of remote villages in Pakistan’s mountainous North and Northwestern provinces. Without even basic shelter such as blankets and winterized tents, the United Nations has said that many more will die from winter conditions than were killed by the earthquake.

With only two weeks left before the onset of winter, winterized tents have run out in Pakistan, and international aid is neither sufficient nor speedy enough to prepare those who have been left homeless and vulnerable to the elements. The situation has become desperate.

The Crisis Relief Society ( Singapore) has established a base in a Pakistan army camp in Bagh, North Pakistan. With the help of mules and local helpers, CRS is bringing urgently needed relief supplies and medical relief into the remains of mountain villages beyond the base camp. CRS also has a team of doctors, nurses and volunteers treating those injured in the quake. To date, CRS has treated over 1,000 patients.

Together with local partners, CRS is committed to bringing and maintaining a steady chain of urgently needed supplies such as blankets and tents into these remote areas. 95% of all donations go directly to the victims of this disaster in the form of supplies, but these relief supplies will have to get to those who need it–before winter sets in! Once winter comes roads will no longer be accessible and weather conditions will render flying supplies in too dangerous.

You can help–your donation will go towards bringing in winter supplies straight into the disaster zones. One winter worthy tent costs S$300 and one blanket costs S$25 (current price with transportation factored in).

14th Nov 2005

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Report of Pakistan Earthquake Relief Project – 14th November 2005

A joint team from CRS and St John’s – St Margaret’s Church (CRS-SJSM Medical Team 1) has left for Kunhar Christian Hospital. They will run mobile clinics there from Nov 12-19.

Team members comprise Dr. Suelyn Chew, Dr. Jennifer Yeo, Mr. Chan Shih Yen, SRN Mano Annadurai, Mr. Ng Peng Kiat and Mr. Lee Soo Jin.

The next team (CRS-SJSM Medical Team 2) will continue the work there from Nov 19-26. This team comprises Mr. Simon Ng, Dr. Koh Eng Hoe, Dr. Jennifer Loh, Mr. Victor Teo, Mr. Michael Sim and Ms. Cecilia Dierden.

Kunhar Christian Hospital is located between Manshera and Balakot (epicenter of the earthquake).

Hospital Director Dr. Haroon Lal Din will accommodate the mobile medical team in the vicinity of the hospital and assist in the logistics of running a mobile clinic.

9th November 2005

Report of Pakistan Earthquake Relief Project – 9th November 2005

A team of 4 has just returned from Bagh, Pakistan doing medical relief work there. They are Dr. Toh Khai Lee, Dr. Gene Ong, Ms Jasmine Wong and Dr. Paul Mok. During their stay there from 29 Oct 05 to 8 Nov 05, they saw about 700 patients altogether. Partnering our local hosts from Victory Family Centre of Pakistan, they spent their time going into mountain villages treating the sick and wounded. There were many opportunities to share God’s love with the people they came in contact with.

Steve Loh is presently in Bagh discussing the logistics of shelter distribution with the local hosts. He has also made contact with the United Nations Office and will be looking into ways of augmenting their shelter distribution program. He will return on 12 Nov 05.

Presently, a team of 6 has just left for Bagh on 8 Nov 05. They are helping out with logistics for shelter distribution. They are Christina Phung, Ng Tze Yong, Iris Siew, Terence Lim and Johnny Tang. They will return on 19 Nov 05.

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Day 3 – Early morning at camp
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Day 4 – Paul examining patient at Malot
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Day 4 – Team photo
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Day 5 – Gene in action at Malot
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Day 5 – Khai lee and Gene at Malot

Recce Team Report from Pakistan

Recce Team Report from Pakistan – 2nd November 2005

By Christina Phung

A team of 5 left for Pakistan on 15 Oct 05, a week after the earthquake. Three of the members returned on 22 Oct 05, I myself came back on 25 Oct 05, while one CRS member stayed behind to coordinate the relief effort.

Purpose of the recce trip:

• To seek like-minded local partners to start relief and reconstruction work in an identified area
• To assess needs and set up the necessary logistics for future teams from Singapore

For the first part of the trip, on the recommendation of our host, we went to the areas in Kaghan valley. Our first stop was at Balakot which was almost completely flattened by the earthquake. We decided to set up base at the NGOs camp coordinated by the Pakistan Army. As there were already a number of doctors from the various NGOs operating in the town, we went beyond as far as the road can take us to survey the place and to run mobile clinic by the road side. We also visited two Christian hospitals; Kunhar Christian Hospital at Gari Habibullah (between Maneshra and Balakot) and Bach Christian Hospital (near Abbottabad). The purpose is to facilitate orthopedic surgeons from Singapore to work in the hospitals.

For the second part of the trip, we visited Bagh in Kashmir with another host. They have already started work in the place 20 km from Bagh town. This includes medical clinic and giving out relief supplies such as tents, blankets, mattresses and food. They have good favor from the army and were given permission to set up their base in the army camp (they are the only NGO) to reach out to the surrounding villages. So far, two of the villages have been served. The first ridge has more than 300 families, and there are more families beyond. With the arrival of a doctor and a nurse and together with one of the recce team member who stayed behind, we have already started mobile medical clinic. Besides seeing patients at the base camp, each day the doctor and nurse will hike to the villages to see patients. For further places which involve 3 or more hours of walking, the team will camp overnight at the villages.

As in previous CRS projects, our strategy is to team up with a credible local partner who is committed to help the people in the disaster area on a longer term basis beyond immediate relief. CRS will provide whatever help within its means to assist the local partner to do their work. In this way, CRS seeks to establish continuity of help to the survivors of the earthquake for a longer term impact.
In conclusion, we have decided to work in Bagh, Kashmir with one of the local partners who has been there for the last 16 years or more. We will be setting up base camp at this place, Mong Bajery (about 20 km from Bagh town). The plan is to provide immediate relief till winter comes (around end November) which the road will be closed. The relief will be two pronged; medical as well as in the form of relief supplies. For medical, we will run medical clinic from our base camp as well as mobile clinic to the surrounding villages (for those who are injured and are unable to come down to the base camp). Medical work has already started with a doctor and nurse now stationed there. A team of 3 doctors together with 2 other volunteers will be leaving 29 October. Relief supplies like tents, blankets, tarpaulins, mattresses and food (to last them for the winter) will be given out. These will be carried to the villages with the help of mules (The army camp which we are based is in charge of animal transport).

Our plan is to continue the relief effort way into the reconstruction phase; providing schooling materials and helping them to rebuild their lives.

Plight of the South Asia Quake Victims

Plight of the South Asia Quake Victims – 11th October 2005

By Saad Naveed Pall, a Pakistani working in Singapore whose family is living in Islamabad.

Amid the chaos that resulted in the aftermath of the South Asia earthquake that has left thousands dead and even more injured and homeless came a heart-wrenching story of a man torn by the disaster. Speaking to real life survivors of the quake last night, I heard of the man whose wife had passed away during the worst calamity that has hit the region during the last century. His two children had both been trapped underneath the remains of a building that collapsed during the quake in the city of Muzaffarabad, Pakistan. Unable to pull them out from the rubble and not able to withstand their excruciating cries of pain, he chose to ease their suffering by killing them, and later committed suicide.This is just one of the many troubling stories I have heard since the last 2 days, speaking to relatives and friends living near the epicentre of the earthquake. The official death toll had topped 30,000 last night, but speaking to people who have witnessed the results of the disaster, I was told it may be closer to 80,000 or even more. Estimates state that 75% of the city of Muzaffarabad is filled with completely wiped out houses and buildings that have been brought to the ground; while school playgrounds have been turned into mass graveyards. Many of the nearby villages have perished completely, leaving behind no signs of life.Nevertheless, it is encouraging that the roads to the hitherto inaccessible cities in Pakistani Kashmir have been cleared of the rubble and aid is on the way to the people most in need. People all over the world have been contributing generously to the relief effort with aid coming from several countries and international organisations as well the Gulf state of Kuwait that has pledged $100 million in aid to Pakistan. I personally know people who have been contributing truckloads of food, clothing, tents and medicine to the survivors. Also encouraging is the fact that survivors are still being rescued from the rubble, with a 13-month-old boy emerged last night from the collapse of a building thanks to the rescue efforts of the local villagers.Many of the survivors of this calamity are forced to live without shelter, food and water for 3 days in the cold of the approaching winter, and there could be as many as 4 million people without homes. The task now is to get the aid delivered to them before it is too late.

What do locals say about CRS’s work in Kashmir, Pakistan – 25th December 2005

By Mahfooz Khan

Our local hosts from Calvary Charismatic Church in partnership with CRS has been working continuously in the hills around Mong Bajiri, Bagh in Azad Kashmir since mid October 2005.

Here is some of the feedback received from the local people whom we have reached out to.

From Village Chour Teh Dhirkot, District Bagh Azad Kashmir

“My village and the people from Hira Public School are very grateful to you and your team for all your help. Words cannot express our gratitude and thanks to you.”

Sardar Muhammad Ayaz Khan, Advocate Supreme Court

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From Village of Dahar (Bangoin)

“You are the first people to come to our village. We are very happy that you have come to help treat our people. And with the metal sheets, we can now rebuild our houses. With foreigners coming here, it also gives our people greater exposure to foreign culture and advancement, and helps accelerate growth.”